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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Sterling Line-up Announced for the 2015 Time of the Writer Festival

The lineup for the 18th Time of the Writer Festival has been announced, including the who’s who of South African literature.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and made possible by support from the Department of Arts and Culture, the City of Durban, the French Institute (IFAS) and the Goethe Institute, the 18th edition of the festival will take place in Durban between 16 and 21 March.

The lineup for the 2015 Time of the Writer:

NoViolet Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Carol Campbell, South Africa

Imraan Coovadia, South Africa

ZP Dala, South Africa

Ousmane Diarra, Mali

Dilman Dila, Uganda

Jacob Dlamini, South Africa

Ekow Duker, South Africa

Craig Higginson, South Africa

Mandla Langa, South Africa

Thando Mgqolozana, South Africa

Kirsten Miller, South Africa

MJ Mngadi, South Africa

Nthikeng Mohlele, South Africa

Given Mukwevho, South Africa

Futhi Ntshingila, South Africa

Sue Nyathi, Zimbabwe

Charlotte Otter, South Africa

Margaret Von Klemperer, South Africa

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, South Africa

The theme for this year’s festival, Writing For Our Lives, calls attention to the urgent continuing struggle of all writers in speaking truth and bearing witness to the times through their words. Globally writers are combatting censorship when the truth is too hard to swallow, challenging the reader’s perspective and sparking a passion for literature in our youth.

During this activity-rich week, audiences can expect to engage with a multitude of award-winning writers, from a wide range of political and social contexts, on the creative and technical processes and perspectives which shape their writing.

Evening readings and discussions will take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (Howard College Campus) while wide reaching free day programmes are spread across Durban and the surrounding areas as part of the festival’s ongoing efforts to promote and nurture a culture of creative expression through reading and writing. This includes school visits, a publishing forum and a range of seminars and workshops.

Ticket information

Ticket cost R25 for the evening sessions and R10 for students on presentation of a student card. Workshops, seminars and book launches are free of charge. Book through Computicket Tel: 0861 915 8000 or 011 340 8000 or online at or at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from 6 PM.

For more information contact the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal by phone on +27 31 260 2506/1816 or email

We Need New NamesEsther's House’n Huis vir EsterTales of the Metric SystemnullA Killing in the Sun
AskariWhite WahalaThe Texture of ShadowsUnimportanceSister MoonKusemhlabeni Lapha
Rusty BellThe Violent Gestures of LifeDo Not Go GentleThe PolygamistBalthasar's GiftJust a Dead ManNothing Left to Steal

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No Lunatics at the Time of the Writer Finale

Thorsten Schulz, translator, Boubacar Boris Diop, Lindy Stiebel @ TOW

Special to the CCA blog by Ben Williams

Despite the bright supermoon that hung toothsomely over the city of Durban last night, the fourteenth Time of the Writer festival came to its denouement without yelps and howls – except for the howls of laughter that Chris van Wyk elicited from the audience at regular intervals, during his panel with Njabulo Ndebele and Etienne van Heerden. No lunatics at the Elizabeth Sneddon, then – just a goodly crowd of literature lovers assembled in a temporary theatre of ideas.

MurambiThe evening opened with a discussion that was meant to address “the pen as a weapon against war”, but proved more interesting as an exploration of how the two writers in the spotlight, Thorsten Schulz of Germany and Boubacar Boris Diop of Senegal, contextualise themselves as artists. Schulz, who is also a filmmaker, told panel moderator Lindy Stiebel that he was surprised to find himself scheduled to speak about war – “Perhaps it’s because I’m a German?”. He doesn’t completely buy into the idea of “art as a weapon”, finding that it has so many more non-coercive uses. His concern is the poetic, and while there is such a thing as a poetics of war, they are subject, like all poetics, to the poetics of truth, which is the most fertile territory of all for an artist.

#tow2011 At school, Schulz was exposed to an ‘anti-fascist’ writer who advocated the idea of ‘art as a weapon’, but he didn’t fully buy it.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

Diop, meanwhile, spent much of his time describing a “war of languages” in Senegal, waged among speakers of Wolof, Fula, other local tongues and French. Diop writes his fiction in Wolof first, then translates it. He called his countrymen and women “half-lingual”, rather than bi-; they’re caught between their home languages and French’s pull, although the latter is gradually diminishing, yielding to what Diop named as a nascent “Wolof imperialism”. To counter the rise of Wolof at the expense of other languages, Diop has founded a half-Wolof, half-Fula newspaper, and is involved with a literary award that rotates among several tongues. Writing in Wolof, said Diop, was writing on the “right side of history”: his books will always be accessible for his children and grandchildren and generations beyond.

#tow2011 A note on translation: Diop said he got the knack once he learned that translation involves not moving from one language to anotherless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

#tow2011 …but from playing with two different *texts* and gradually drawing, nudging them closer to each other. Interesting thought.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

~ ~ ~

Peter Rorvik, Etienne van Heerden, Njabulo Ndebele, Chris van Wyk @ TOW

Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch30 Nights in AmsterdamAfter the interval, Ndebele, van Wyk and van Heerden took the stage to a big cheer, a show of friendly partisanship from the audience for three South African heavy-hitters. The panel was titled “Re-inventing memory through literature”, and Ndebele expertly guided us on a tour of the alchemical processes in his colleagues’ minds, which make books out of memory.

For van Heerden, turning characters from his childhood into slightly different but nonetheless recognisable characters in his fiction is an act of “lifting the lid” on a time of muteness. What he writes, he says, is actually counter-history, or counter-memory, the opening up and unfolding of things that were never spoken of, only experienced in secret, compacted ways. He read a passage from 30 Nights in Amsterdam that left the audience breathless and disturbed. It was certainly the most powerful reading I heard at my two days at the festival, and moved 30 Nights right to the top of my reading list.

#tow2011 It’s quite a harrowing passage, describing the disposal of the aunt’s lover’s murdered body. Audience is dead still.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

#tow2011 ‘He fries to a crozzle and the skull of my lover bursts open like a boiled cabbage’ – van Heerdenless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

Van Wyk, of course, offered up his life as a joyous sacrifice for us to feast upon, which we did, laughter dripping down our happy muzzles like mutton fat. His wife was sitting right next to me – and he had her in stitches, too, reading from his memoir, Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch and recounting episodes from his childhood in Riverlea. Making your wife laugh hard enough to cry after all these years: the very definition of irrepressible!

#tow2011 Lovely long rambling story from van Wyk punctuated by a description of Verwoerd as ‘just an old fucking bastard’.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

Ndebele drew the evening – and the festival – to a close with a rather magnificent meditiation on the past, the future, the present – and writers’ places in each:

#tow2011 Ndebele concludes: great transitions, such as SA’s, can actually destroy memory by getting us to focus on the futureless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

#tow2011 …but the past will always keep calling us to attend to it, which is dangerous, as it can lead to abandonment of vision…less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

#tow2011 …and a confused present. And in a confused present, we risk losing both the past and the future. But through books, literature…less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

#tow2011 …we can bring them back.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPad

After the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre went dark, all that remained was to head to beach and raise a glass by the light of the supermoon:

Lauren Beukes, Petina Gappah @ TOW

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